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Wheaton ready to defend state title after 161 at sectionals

WHEATON – After tallying a state-best score of 161.00 at its own sectional May 1, the Wheaton co-op boys gymnastics team wasn’t overly excited about its performance.

Talk about having high standards.

Now, after eight days off from competition, the squad will head to the state meet Friday at Lincoln-Way East High School as the clear-cut favorite to win their second consecutive title.

“My mentality is that I want to be five-strong in every event,” said Wheaton coach Greg Gebhardt. “If you are five strong in every event, you can sit back and enjoy the meet. It will never be perfect, there will be some bumps in the road. But if you are five strong, you won’t be sunk.”

Conant, which produced the second highest sectional score of 154.600, is expected to provide the stiffest competition.

Wheaton tuned up for the state meet with a dominant performance at the nine-team sectional. Glenbard West (141.75) was the runner-up.

The team swept the top three spots in the all-around competition. Ethan Sansone posted a score of 55.30 to edge out teammate David MacDonald (55.25). Danny Heller came in third with a total of 49.10.

“When you are scoring a 161, that’s a really respectable score,” Gebhardt said. “Ethan and David both had outstanding performances, both went 6-for-6. It goes to show how tough those guys are. Ethan had over a one-point jump of his PR.”

Sansone was also first on the floor (9.55), pommel horse (9.40) and high bar (9.30). MacDonald won the parallel bars (9.55) and was second on the floor (9.40), pommel horse (9.35), vault (9.45) and high bar (9.00).

Heller came in third on the vault and fourth on the floor and pommel horse.

“All three guys work very well together,” Gebhardt said. “That is the thing, if any one of them was on a team by themselves, they would be the star.

“In many of the years, Danny [Heller] would be our top guy and he’s playing third fiddle as a senior. He’s handled it great. He is a captain and has competed in every meet this year. He has been a consistent force all year.”

Austin Peabody added a fourth-place finish on the high bar.

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